Whether arty or crafty there are lots of both in South Wales. Starting with Swansea, just 20 minutes drive away there is the Ceri Richard Gallery. Based in Swansea University’s Taliesin Arts Centre, it specialises in hosting touring exhibitions by contemporary Welsh artists and Celtic artists. The Glynn Vivian Art Gallery is the main city gallery, and is Edwardian, housing an inspiring collection of Welsh art including works by Gwen John, and her brother Augustus, whose portrait of Caitlin Thomas, Dylan’s wife, lives here. For information on current and forthcoming exhibitions please use the links on the right.
Around the corner are some often overlooked famous paintings, the Empire Panels by Frank Brangwyn, which hang in the eponymous Brangwyn Hall. If you want to see real live artists go and see them at work in the Black Mountain Gallery in Cwmllynfell, Swansea Valley. An old car showroom now displays prints, paintings, sculpture and ceramics.
You can also see traditional skills in use at Ewenny Pottery workshops and showroom – one of the oldest Welsh working potteries, and nearby Claypits Pottery – another small local Pottery. In old Llantrisant town, the Model House Craft and Design Centre is a visitor centre containing a Crafts Council listed gallery, craft shop and studios where crafts people can be seen at work.
In Cardiff, the National Gallery Wales is not to be missed – with the best collection of impressionist and post-impressionist art outside France with a Cézanne and some waterlillies by Monet. Cardiff Bay’s Norwegian Church in Cardiff Bay was where author Roald Dahl was baptised and is now an arts centre and café.
There are many small workshops and galleries in the area, including the Candle Workshop at Gelligroes Mill, where craftsmen design and produce hundreds of different shapes, colours and sizes of candles. Uncover the Mill’s fascinating history and its connections with the Titanic. There is also Peter Wills Pottery in Bridgend, chosen to produce the commemorative bowls presented to each of the visiting Heads of States during the 1998 European Summit in Cardiff. Cyfarthfa Castle Museum and Art Gallery contains a fine collection of paintings and ceramics including one portrait by Rolf Harris. The Castle has regular evening events including music, poetry, drama and historical talks.
On the edge of the Brecon Beacons and home of the annual Hay Literature Festival, attracting authors, musicians and book lovers, Hay on Wye is more than just a pretty village. It is the second hand book capital of the world. A bibliophiles paradise, the tiny town where almost every shop sells novels also has the world’s largest second hand bookshop. Love cutlery? The Lovespoon Gallery in Mumbles offers hundreds of designs from many individual carvers. Welsh men in love carved spoons to offer their sweethearts as signs of affection or bethrothal. A practice dating from the 17th Century, the spoon should be made from a single piece of wood to show the carver’s skill. A bell in the spoon signifies a wedding, whereas a wheel means – I will work for you.
From the early 19th Century, world famous porcelain was made in Nantgarw China Works. Visit the potter’s workshop to see it being made on site and learn how clay pipes were made. For more lifelike ceramics, visit Pontypridd’s World of Groggs, where you can see miniature versions of the rich and famous, sold as collectible statuettes. There is also a museum with sporting memorabilia and autographs of sporting personalities.
Arts Events in Wales
What’s On Wales is a guide to the arts best events in Wales. It is maintained by Audiences Wales, an agency dedicated to increasing access to the arts and cultural sector in Wales.The Arts Council of Wales (ACW) was set up in 1994 by Royal Charter. It is responsible for funding and developing the arts in Wales. Established in 1977, the Welsh Crafts Council is an independent, non-political membership organisation made up of full-time professional producers working in Wales.